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    The Haua Fteah, Cyrenaica (Northeast Libya): renewed investigations of the cave and its landscape

    Barker, G. and Hunt, C. and Reynolds, Tim and Brooks, I. (2007) The Haua Fteah, Cyrenaica (Northeast Libya): renewed investigations of the cave and its landscape. Libyan Studies 38 , pp. 93-114. ISSN 0263-7189.

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    The 1950s excavations by Charles McBurney in the great Haua Fteah cave in northeast Libya revealed a deep (14 m) sequence of human occupation going back at least 100,000 years, with evidence for the presence of both Neanderthals and Modern Humans in the Pleistocene, and for Neolithic farmers in the Holocene. In 2007 a renewed programme of archaeological and geomorphological investigation began with the objective of improving understanding of the cave's occupation sequence and, combined with fieldwork in the landscape, of the history of landscape change and human responses to it. The initial season of fieldwork removed the upper c. 4.5 m of backfill in the McBurney trench; established the robustness of the original faces and their suitability for analytical interventions; recorded detailed running sections spanning from the present day to (at least) the Last Glacial Maximum c. 20,000 years ago; and indicated the potential of the surviving archaeology to reveal not just sequence but also activities or ‘taskscapes’ at the site. The geomorphological fieldwork identified rich sequences of later Quaternary deposits (marine, colluvial, alluvial, aeolian) with the potential to provide significant results regarding the history of climate and environment in the region. Archaeological survey around the cave indicates that the variability of the surface lithic evidence appears to reflect real differences in past human behaviour and use of the landscape and not just post-depositional taphonomic processes. Fifty years after the extraordinary pioneering work of McBurney and his colleagues, the new work demonstrates the continued potential of the Haua Fteah's unique occupation sequence and the multi-period ‘human landscapes’ around it to transform understanding of early human societies in North Africa.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2017 12:11
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:32


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